By Joel Hall
With gas prices rising and the economy lagging, people are dining out less and less, according to some locals.
For another year, Historical Jonesboro hosted the Taste of Clayton to give locals a chance to sample the variety of foods available to them that are close to home.
The Taste of Clayton took place, as it has for the last 17 years, in the backyard of the Stately Oaks Plantation in Jonesboro. People from all walks of life converged in a friendly setting for something everyone could agree on -- good food.
Barbara Emert, president of Historical Jonesboro, said the event serves a dual purpose of boosting the local economy, by spotlighting area restaurants and securing the continued operation of the Historic Jonesboro and its many historical education programs.
"It's our biggest fund-raiser for the year and without it, we would have a really hard time," said Emert. "A lot of the people who come have never come [to Stately Oaks] before, but they are drawn by the food."
For a flat fee, dozens of local restaurants provided a taste of the foods they serve, ranging from country biscuits to French pâté.
"We hope that they'll come back and find out what all we do here," Emert said. She said she was "excited" to see many new restaurants and specialty stores serve as vendors at the event for the first time.
LaTerra Weston, owner of Tasty Treats Bakery in Forest Park, was a first-time vendor at the event. She mostly does private catering. She said the Taste of Clayton is good for her business.
"This was a good way to let people know we exist," said Weston, whose business is only four months old. "A lot of people will omit you if you are not big, so exposure is everything."
Molly Bobitt, who has been a vendor at Taste of Clayton for several years, is co-owner of Rainwater's, a restaurant which has existed in Clayton County since the 1930s. She said she enjoys the friendly atmosphere.
"I love the old church social feel and I feel like everybody gets a chance to know each other," said Bobitt. "Nobody eats and leaves ... every eats and hangs out."
Faye Doyle, a Morrow resident, has been coming to the Taste of Clayton for eight years. She said the event is good for the local economy.
"I'm choosy about where I go because of the economy," said Doyle. "This gets more people eating out."
The Taste of Clayton "gives our local restaurants a chance to display their wares and it gives people a chance to see that they don't need to drive out of town to have a good night," said Luther Maddox, mayor of Jonesboro. "It shows that we have ... restaurants in Clayton County as good as anywhere else."